Homepage » Service » News archive » News


Gurbir S. Bhullar
(Dr. Sc.)

Department of International Cooperation
Group lead Tropical Agriculture
Ackerstrasse 113
CH-5070 Frick

Phone +41 (0)62 865-7258

FiBL researchers publish perspective article on Sustainable Intensification of Tropical Agro-Ecosystems

Sustainable intensification of tropical agriculture is crucial, but how to achieve it is a matter of debate. In a new publication, FiBL researchers highlight the major knowledge gaps in agricultural research and policy that must be addressed to develop adequate governance and regulatory frameworks for sustainable agricultural intensification.

Gurbir S. Bhullar and Christian Andres in the auditorium.

Session chairs Christian Andres and Dr Gurbir Bhullar at the GTOE conference, April 2015, AudiMax, ETH Zurich. (Photo: Gurbir S. Bhullar, FiBL)

(February 11, 2016) 

Following the chairing of a session at the Annual Conference of the Society for Tropical Ecology held at ETH Zurich in April 2015, Christian Andres and Dr. Gurbir S. Bhullar from the Department of International Cooperation at FiBL wrote a perspective article about sustainable intensification of tropical agro-ecosystems. Rapid population growth, increasingly complex economies and novel industrial uses of agricultural products call for further intensification of agriculture, particularly in the tropics. However, how to achieve sustainable intensification of food production systems in tropical regions that are challenged by ongoing climate change, loss of natural resources and biodiversity, is still subject to international debates.

The article outlines the main knowledge gaps to be addressed to move towards the development of governance and regulatory frameworks that are conducive for sustainable agricultural intensification in the tropic. These include the quantification of the following:

  • value of public and private goods generated by ecosystem services,
  • costs to conserve the natural resources that maintain these ecosystem services,
  • true costs of different types of agriculture in environmental, social and health dimensions, and
  • required adaptations to ensure feasibility of alternative farming strategies at global scale

The article discusses the synergies and potential of agro-ecology and organic agriculture to transform food systems and highlights the importance of controlling food demand through behavioural and structural changes in societies and policies of agricultural value chains. Finally, it reviews sustainability standards and participatory guarantee systems, and argues that success stories from developed countries could guide the framing of appropriate governance and regulatory frameworks in developing countries.

Further information


Andres C and Bhullar GS (2016) Sustainable Intensification of Tropical Agro-Ecosystems: Need and Potentials. Front. Environ. Sci. 4:5. doi: 10.3389/fenvs.2016.00005

FiBL contact

Gurbir S. Bhullar


journal.frontiersin.org: Andres C. and Bhullar G.S. (2016): Sustainable Intensification of Tropical Agro-Ecosystems: Need and Potentials. Front. Environ. Sci. 4:5. doi: 10.3389/fenvs.2016.00005 (open access)